Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed.
Ok, more than sometimes.
Oh, what’s that? You too? I thought so.
Well, let me tell you a little something.
As I was driving home from lunch at the park with hubby and the girls, I was thinking about how we want more kids. I was thinking about how it just seems natural to me that we will have more, although in reality I know it will be hard. This led me to consider the times I have watched my own two girls along with my two nephews. Why is it, I pondered, that I never feel stressed out at the thought of watching four children ages four and under. Why is it, I wondered, that I never feel stressed out while watching them?
The answer, I realized, was the root of my feelings of being overwhelmed.
The answer was me.
I am the root.
When I know I will be babysitting my nephews, I have no expectations. I do not plan on cleaning the kitchen or going anywhere or accomplishing anything for myself. Rather, I plan on being with them, entertaining them, feeding them. I dedicate all of my efforts and my mind to keeping them safe and happy and free from cousin disagreements. I am in the moment. I am committed.
Often, while at home with my own children, I have my own agenda. I treat them as an appendage to my life. Therefore, when they are begging for my attention and I am desperately trying to finish putting the laundry away in my room I feel frustrated. When my toddler hits her baby sister while I’m scrambling to finish the dishes, I get angry. When we are playing outside and I desperately want to vacuum or lesson plan or anything other than what I am doing, I feel overwhelmed.
My own selfish desires (however honorable) are at the root.
If I were to throw myself into their playtime with reckless abandon, even for a mere thirty minutes, then they would be happier and I would be happier. If I didn’t view their needs and desires as messing up my needs and desires, I would be less overwhelmed.
If I treated my days with them the way I treat those occasional afternoons of babysitting my nephews, we would all be happier.
Motherhood is a whole new level of selflessness, filled with layers and layers. The first layer is what I would want to do if I could – read a book, go to the beach, exercise. The next layer is what I’d like to do – finish some home projects, organize, read my Bible. The next layer is immediate and glaring needs – dishes, laundry, cooking. The final layer is the moment to moment needs of my children – diapers, bottles, snacks, potty training, hugs, kisses, playing duplos, painting.
First, I have to recognize that the root of my own overwhelming feelings is myself and my selfishness. It may not seem selfish to want to wash the dishes, but if I am frustrated at my children because they want to do something while I want to wash the dishes, then it is selfishness.
I need to let go of those roots. Or better yet, I need to plant them by streams of living water. I need to let my root be Christ, not me.
Now, I can’t completely give up on all my tasks and my needs and my desires for the sake of playing play dough 24-7 with my children. But, I can give them uninterrupted moments. I can make their pleasure my purpose. I can simply say, “I will wash those dishes in thirty minutes “and then LET. IT. GO. and focus on my children’s needs.
We all feel overwhelmed at times, whether due to motherhood or not. The question is, what’s at the root? Your own expectations? Perhaps. So, dig up those roots, clean them off.
Then, transplant them, before they grow too deep.